The Left

The conscience of Venezuela’s democratic Left

The Venezuelan blogger Daniel reminds us that there are democratic leftwing alternatives to the increasingly autocratic populism of Hugo Chavez.

He reports on the publication of a new book by Teodoro Petkoff, who probably comes as close as anyone to being the conscience of the (I’ll say it) decent Left in Venezuela.

Teodoro Petkoff is the editor of Tal Cual [in Spanish], a newspaper with the distinction of being almost as disliked by the right as it is nearly hated by the chavista left. Yet Mr. Petkoff leftist’s credentials are impeccable: ex-guerilla, ex-political prisoner, ex-leftist presidential candidate. Until he came to his senses and realized that leftist ideals were not incompatible with pragmatism and general prosperity. However, the right never forgave him his guerilla years while the left, one of them anyway, cannot forgive him to have opposed Chavez even before his election in 1998, to have preferred then principles over madcap adventure

… [Petkoff’s] thesis is that the Latin American left time has arrived but that it must chose between two versions. One is an anachronism, even reactionary in its ways, the left which holds power in Havana and which is slowly but surely tightening its senile grip on Venezuela while it tries to get its next prize in Bolivia. The other left is a democratic left, without inhibitions, which has reached great success in Chile and seems to be on the way to success in Brazil, apparently in Argentina and likely in Uruguay.

…Petkoff has become over the last few years a prominent leader of the opposition even though he probably did not intend it, and one that got no help on the way from any quarter. His pen in Tal Cual more and more sets the tone of the debate within the diverse opposition. Incidentally, Chavez has not attacked Tal Cual the way he has excoriated El Universal or El Nacional. Perhaps he knows that Petkoff sees right through him, as he sees right through his henchmen, in particular Jose Vicente Rangel. Not to mention that Petkoff can find the right words to expose them, such as his felicitous “izquierda borbonica” [Bourbon Left].

And yes, Petkoff opposed the 2002 coup against Chavez.